Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chrysler Group – The Magical Turnaround

Chrysler's our industry's witness to the power of great branding. Or in this case, re-branding. 

Recently, Ad Age named Chrysler Group “Marketer of the Year.” Olivier Francois re-branded the bankrupt Chrysler with two major advertising campaigns that have helped to turn around American opinion and increase sales by a whopping 37%. I'm sure you'll agree - that result is almost unbelievable. 

According to Automotive News figures, Chrysler’s market share went up from 8.9% to 11.5%; unit-sales growth jumped to 37% from -4% in 2009. Additionally, the brand loyalty rate doubled (which measures the second purchase of a Chrysler) moving from 15% in Q3 2009 to 30% in Q2 2012 (as reported by automotive researcher Polk).    

The incredible success began with Super Bowl commercials in 2011 (“Born on Fire” featuring Eminem) and 2012 (“Halftime in America”). Both ads conveyed a powerful theme of American pride and the rebirth of a new Chrysler. They were built on stories, rather than the product itself. “Born on Fire” uses a tough male narrator to tell the story of the Metro City where Chrysler is born and made. Copy like “it’s the hottest fire that makes the hardest steel” really resonates. While many of the images in the commercial are almost cold and heavy, later we see flashes of Detroit’s fields of excellence. It's a condensed history of Detroit showing undeniable strength rising through the pain. 

The story clearly spoke to American audiences and as a result, the dealership’s situation dramatically changed from struggling to “keep their head above water” to tripling sales of several models. According to Mr. Francois, Chrysler already “started a conversation. And conversation is paramount”. 

This is one Super Bowl spot I'm looking forward to seeing.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

When a Commercial Goes Viral

The brand new Chanel No.5 commercial starring Brad Pitt recently went viral online, receiving over 5.6 million views on a single YouTube video. This is the first time that Chanel hired a spokesman for its signature fragrance. In the past, their spokeswomen have included famous, beautiful women such as Nicole Kidman, Estella Warren, Carole Bouquet, and Audrey Tautou, who all represented the feminine and sophisticated charm of the perfume. However, Brad Pitt, named twice “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine, has brought more discussion, controversy and awareness to the timeless fragrance more than anyone above.

In the video that has been madly talked about, Mr. Pitt presents himself with a deep, masculine feeling and makes a mini-pitch about his perspective on life, journey and fate. The new commercial does not look remotely similar to previous ones, which had fancy, extravagant settings and a romantic storyline. The ending line also transforms from “her kiss, her smile, her perfume”, to “my look, my fate, my fortune”, in order to keep the marketing language aligned. Unfortunately, the many viewers did not buy the idea of him telling his life story (in a minimalist version), and they complained about his distracted, awkward look. Now it is confirmed that even negative comments can successfully draw so much attention.

Naturally, viewers do not simply stop here. A great thing about the Internet era is that people are free to express their sarcasm or praise through user-generated content. YouTubers around the world have enjoyed making parodies of this commercial. Here are a few notable and amusing examples, some of which might serve as inspiration.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Presential Campaign Marketing Via Narrowcasting

Since political parties are purchasing most of the television inventories as we approach the 2012 election, online-video inventory has become an alternative place for candidates’ 30-second ads. Mixpo, an online-video-advertising technology company, has determined that the spending in 2012 could be seven times what it was in the 2008 presidential election. As a result, there may not be enough online ad inventories in November to satisfy demand in some states.

Starting from the introduction of web-based advertisements in the 2004 election, political parties have issued tailored ads to target specific audiences, a process known as narrowcasting. Although the predicted $35 million spent on streaming online video in the election cycle is still a fraction of the $5.6 billion on television broadcasts, the online-video consumption is growing rapidly and making an impact on people’s decisions.

Other than online videos, politicians are leveraging the power of social media like never before to connect and build intimacy with the public. For both presidential candidates, social networking platforms have become a crucial battlefield that they cannot afford to lose. With the in-depth data analysis of the online audience, the candidates are able to adjust their messages to cater for many different tastes.

This shift from broadcasting to narrowcasting illustrates how presidential campaigns are beginning to target based on demographics or behavioral characteristics. Media outlets have been allowed to deliver messages that are designed for specific target audience. What happens if we are only exposed to information that has been preselected for us? When news and commercials are busy producing their own facts and reality to appeal to the believers, can we still see the truth? Decision-making never seems easy, but making your own decision has become more difficult than ever.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Skip the Commercials? Who’s Footing the Bill?

As networks are trying to fit more commercials into their airtimes, it appears that some satellite broadcasters are coming up with new ways for viewers to skip them altogether. A new feature called AutoHop, included in Dish digital recorders, allows viewers to skip commercials on recorded shows from the big four broadcast networks – ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX. This innovation turns the screen dark when the commercials arrive, and returns to the show a few seconds later.

As a result, several broadcasting networks have planned to take Dish network to court, saying that the ad-skipping feature violates copyright laws and threatens the financial system of the television industry. Companies could decide to stop airing their commercials on networks, because they’re afraid that viewers will just skip their ads using AutoHop. Since commercial broadcasters make their revenue by airing television advertisements, networks stand to lose substantial profits without companies to fund their shows.

Original television began with commercial sponsorship and later transformed to paid commercial time. In fact, the earliest soap operas, as name suggests, started out by having laundry detergent companies act as sponsors and producers of the shows, which were designed to reach daytime viewers and the homemaker target market. Now that technology is making it easier for viewers to skip ads, how much can networks rely on advertising as a source of income in the future? Networks already incorporate spin-off games and toys, product placements and Internet advertising as sources of income.

TV commercials won’t disappear anytime soon, but AutoHop is a clear example of the industry’s changes and challenges. Even I don’t love seeing lots of commercials or hearing blatant plugs for soft drinks and Ford F-150’s. But the truth is that someone has to pay for our entertainment. In the end, that’s you and me. How we’ll pay for it is the unanswered question. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Failing to Re-brand an American Brand

JCPenny’s new “everyday low pricing” policy, similar to Walmart’s, has gotten off to a terrible start. The new marketing campaign, that ditches the hundreds of sales offered throughout the year and instead goes with what is touted as a simpler approach, offering low predictable pricing, has produced a significant drop in sales - nearly $170 million - in the first half of 2012.
It's clear that JCPenny has been recently trying to revamp its marketing strategy. In addition to the sudden exit of its president Michael Francis in only eight months, the company changed its brand logo for the second time in two years to remind the consumers of its American values. What they now call "JCP" also partnered with Ellen Degeneres to make her the spokesperson of the company and has planned to build brand partnerships with Nanette Lepore and Martha Stewart Living. And all this happened in the last six months. Maybe the moniker "Penny's" came off too low end for management, but it sure does bring to mind something instead of the "could be anything to anybody" name of JCP.  

Originally, this campaign made JCP look like a serious competitor in the department store market. Unfortunately, as big sales to lure consumers have disappeared , the campaign has actually driven away many of its bargain-driven consumers. To make matters worse, the growth revenues of JCP's competing apparel retailers, such as Kohl's and Macy's, have increased because of this new marketing policy. It even appears that JCP's everyday low prices ended up being higher than its rivals' heavily discounted prices.

JCP has hinted that it will tweak its no-sale policy by offering some specials. Their strategic blunders have led to many corporations re-examining the values of their audiences before implementing sudden marketing strategies. Looking at the current economic environment, companies must determine the consumer base that will be most effected from such dramatic changes in marketing campaigns. Plus, this failure is a shining - more aptly described as tarnished - example of how critical clarity in marketing communications has become. I wonder if they would have seen better results if JCP had kicked off the concept with a "what's this all about" campaign. While it still may have been too tricky to "get" in a 1-second consumer-reaction window, step-by-step simple-to-understand is what's needed to compete in this arena. However, even that may not have been enough to save this giant. Only time will tell - but it's running out fast.

Company Overview: JCPenney or JCP is a publicly-traded company with more than 11,000 department stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico; most are located in shopping malls. Providing middle-of-the-road merchandise, JCPenney has been a popular destination for finding affordable items without the top brand names attached, developing many of their own brands.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Despite the increasing doubts about the social media sector in the wake of Facebook’s shaky IPO, more companies are turning towards using Twitter’s hashtag in their marketing campaigns to make advertisements more “personal” to viewers. For example, one short NASCAR ad showed driver Brad Keselowski in his car taking a photo of something with a tagline “see what he sees”, encouraging the viewers find out for themselves by visiting Twitter.com/#Nascar. Using hashtags in advertisements allows the public to get involved and discover people who share the same idea about the product.

This merging of television and social media has left us wondering about the next hybrid form of advertisement. Using only one form of communication to grab the attention of the audience is no longer the norm. Integration of traditional and instant media? It’s something that we can look forward to. 

Twitter, officially, is “a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news.” Even the name itself is self-explanatory; “twitter” is defined as short burst of information or birds chirping. Once a small social-networking site in San Francisco, Twitter has become one of the largest competitors in the media industry. Launched in 2006, Twitter currently has 140 million active users that collectively push 400 million Tweets a day. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Social Trends, National Events Inspire Color Palettes

Color has played an important part in U.S. history. Often the popular colors that emerge during certain time periods are keys to understanding the complex moods of a generation. Just thinking back to a high school U.S. History class, distinctive color palettes truly belong in certain decades. The avocado-colored appliances of the ‘70s? Black and neon grunge of the ‘80s? Just as we see trends in advertising, these color trends are hugely significant in demonstrating the mood of the time.
A new book entitled PANTONE The 20th Century in Color by Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker explores American history in this inventive way, through color. In a recent Tone by Pantone interview, the authors discussed what they discovered when exploring color palettes decade by decade.

There were fascinating parallels, the authors found, between social trends, events and conditions of the day. An example they provided was the dichotomy of color trends that emerged during the Great Depression. On one end they found vibrant, Wizard of Oz-esque colors they described as “amusing colors of Technicolor” and on the opposite end were thoughtful, demure and serious palettes expressed in advertisements and even Hollywood fashions of the day. While one presents an optimistic, “things will get better” attitude, the other expresses the inherent moodiness and often more realistic seriousness reflecting Depression-era hardships.

During World War II and similarly post-9/11, we saw an increase in patriotic red, white and blue. It seems as though color can influence mood just as much as events can inspire color trends. It seems appropriate that as we climb further out of the recession, Pantone named “Tangerine Tango” as the color of the year for 2012. This bright, bold color brings an optimistic, happy feel and is described as providing “the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.” As we enter the early 2010s, the question then becomes, what will be the main color trends for this decade?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Are You B!tching?

Shakespeare said it best when he penned Juliet’s famed line, “What’s in a name?” But could it be possible that calling a rose by another name does make it lose its sweetness? What if instead that which we call a rose was named a bitch (excuse my “French”!)?

ABC has two new primetime comedies with rather risqué titles. Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 airing on Wednesdays and Sunday night’s comedy GCB (based off the book Good Christian Bitches) both hint dangerously at the big bad “B” word. So what implications if any does this have? A recent Broadcasting & Cable article explored this question and found a mixed bag of both concern and nonchalance.

The biggest problem ABC affiliates find with these risqué titles is that when people are upset with the network’s programming, they often take it out on the regional affiliates. Imagine being mad at the nice lady working at the Wal-Mart register because you disapprove of Wal-Mart’s corporate policies. But even in these instances, the pushback on the names has been minimal. GCB’s  “in development” title was originally the full Good Christian Bitches. They later switched it to Good Christian Belles and finally what we know and love today, GCB. It is interesting to note, that while the show is controversial on its own, as tackling religion and comedy must be done delicately, after ABC made the final name change, the flood of angry viewers greatly lessened.

The second issue that arises when a show has a controversial title or content is that advertisers may pull out or ask not to air during the offending show’s timeslot. As both of these shows are new, it is difficult to determine if an advertiser’s request for one of the shows to be on the “not preferred list” is due to it simply being new and therefore a rating risk or because of the controversial names.

So really, what is in a name?  A name with bitch or a similar naughty word does standout. It’s memorable and at the moment, rare. But it definitely will throw off a fair amount of people. But that’s what target audience research is all about. Don’t Trust the B---- is most-likely targeting 20- and 30-somethings who could care less about the title. At the end of the day, when choosing a name, the most important step is to know your audience and write for them.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Building Your Brand With Pinterest

Pinterest. The utterly addicting, high enjoyable online 'collage' that has taken the social media world by storm. For those of you unaware of the wonder that is Pinterest, I quote from their website: "Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web." Thanks to this simple site, my wedding has been planned (I'm not engaged), my dream house has been decorated in a way that would make the HGTV Design Star judges jealous (I don't own a house) and the whole world knows that my taste in literature ranges from The Fountainhead to Harry Potter.

But beyond an individual's board showcasing the most enticing recipes they've probably never attempted, Pinterest is a subtle yet effective venue for marketing. A recent AdWeek article discusses how retailers (especially those with an online presence) are jumping at the bit to create boards and their products "repinned." According to the article, in January 2012, Pinterest drove more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined (Shareaholic). But beyond the simple pinning of products, with its unique platform, Pinterest is a creative venue for building a brand.

We always tell our clients that it is crucial to make it personal when developing a brand. With Pinterest a company can create boards with images, quotes and more to tell the story of your organization. Interested in trying this for your brand? Check out Chobani's Pinterest page to see examples of what you could do to show your brand's personality.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mobile Phone Advertising

I’m sitting on my lunch break, catching up on a few neglected Words With Friends games on my iPhone. After entering in my amazing 71-point word (love those triple letters on a triple words), I’m forced to spend a few seconds on an advertisement for some other game or app before I can get back to planning my next genius move. While only about as irritating as fly buzzing around, it is something I would rather do without.

Mobile advertising is a tricky business as a recent New York Times article explains. Because you are dealing with a much smaller face than that of a desktop, laptop or even a tablet, an ad that you may barely notice on the big screen becomes overwhelming on the 5-inch screen on your smartphone.

According to the article, there were more shipments globally of smartphones then personal computers in 2011. Taking that into consideration, it is clear that the advertising challenge on these mobile devices is a widespread issue. If people are using mobile browsing instead of logging on to an actual computer, how can companies reach their consumers without annoying them by constantly taking over their screen? Or, on the flipside, the ad being so small that it is completely ignored?

Facebook is one company facing this challenge. They have not yet found a way to make real money through their mobile app. With more than half of Facebook’s 845 million users signing on through their phone, the company is missing out on a giant revenue building resource.

So now, for Facebook and other companies facing the same problem, it is time to get creative. There are many more subtle ways to advertise without commandeering your screen. The article points out location services where users “check in” to different venues or perhaps sponsored stories popping into the stream of newsfeed updates.

I completely understand the challenge these companies are facing, yet also as an active smartphone user, do not want to be inundated with ads on my small screen. I believe that taking the more clever methods of location services and sponsored stories among lists of other information is a start, and am curious to see what the future holds. What do you think would be the most efficient (and creative) form of mobile device advertising?